Whether you’re going full glam for a happy hour with friends or an important meeting, it’s important to lock your makeup look in place with one of the best setting sprays around. As the last step of your makeup routine, these sprays basically act as liquid cellophane for your makeup, and they’re the easiest way to ensure your flawlessly applied beauty products don’t melt off.
But what actually is setting spray? According to Los Angeles-based cosmetic chemist Victoria Vohland, setting spray is made up of three parts: water, alcohol, and a film former. Together, these create a barrier to prevent makeup from slipping. Fun fact: It’s the same chemical formula that’s used in hair gel, but it’s tweaked to be safer and gentle enough to use on the face. “These are very much used in long-wear makeup, especially when [brands] make claims like ’12-hour-wear,'” she previously told Allure.
Using a setting spray may seem pretty simple — just spray it all over your face when you’re done with your makeup, and you’re done, right? Well, if you want to take your makeup application expertise to the next level, New York City-based makeup artist Tommy suggests applying setting spray in a zig-zag motion, starting on the forehead and moving down to the chin. “I spritz it on the skin from a distance to help rehydrate the face after applying makeup,” he says.
Another tip, courtesy of makeup artist Kate Lee, who works with celebrities such as Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, and Emma Roberts, is to dampen a Beautyblender with the magic liquid before pressing it on the skin to smooth out dry patches or creased makeup.
With these tips in mind, here are the best makeup setting sprays on the market right now to ensure your makeup stays pristine (underneath a mask or just on its own), according to Allure editors and makeup artists.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: Rare Beauty Always An Optimist 4-in-1 Prime & Set Mist, $27
- Allure Best of Beauty Winner: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, $36
- Best Matte Setting Spray: One/Size On ‘Til Dawn Mattifying Waterproof Setting Spray, $32
- Light As Air Formula: Maybelline New York Lasting Fix Makeup Setting Spray, $10
- Best Dewy Setting Spray: Anastasia Beverly Hills Dewy Set Setting Spray, $26
- Best Multi-Tasking Formula: Milani Make It Last Original Setting Spray, $10
- Cooling Sensation: D’Alba Piedmont Aromatic Spray Serum, $45
- Best for Sensitive Skin: MAC Fix + Stay Over Setting Spray, $35
- No-Budge Hold: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, $38
All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.